Alas the nightmare is over. And now starts the post-mortem of yet another poor outing at an ICC event. The BCCI says it is awaiting a response from the team management before taking 'corrective measures'. As an Indian cricket fan who has seen the same script unfold year after year, I feel like doing a Terminatoresque 'Talk to the Hand' to those who run the game.
The brickbats have been out since Team India meandered to meek submission against Sri Lanka in their final Super Eight game at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia. Everything is being scrutinized; let it be the IPL, the late night parties, the extra bit of flab around Yuvraj Singh's waist and what not. And now we hear that the Indian coach (Gary Kirsten) has questioned the fitness and commitment of some of the players.
It is all good and expected because somewhere something is going wrong, but the question is what next. Similar situations have cropped up earlier and after the initial bit of probing, we have gone back to square one. Again the IPL (come on, we know it's not cricket, however mad we may be to watch it), again no rest before a big tournament, again the inability to face bounce and again and again and again. It is not just the system and the players..it runs down to us as well, the fans. We will be completely dismissive of the players and their abilities for some days to come, swear never to bunk school and office to watch an India match. But yet again get back to our jingoistic best whenever the team plays next. This is what I describe after borrowing from Shakespeare's Macbeth as "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".
Thus, it is time we all admit our mistakes and correct them rather than procrastinate. Dhoni has gone on record saying this was the best team available. But a little bit of farsightedness from our selectors (who keep reiterating that they do a thankless job) would have helped for sure. Looking at Aussie leg spinner Steven Smith picking up wickets at all venues, one really feels for Amit Mishra who is on any given day a better option than Piyush Chawla and is in every sense a strike bowler, which he showed in the IPL by picking up 17 wickets. Virat Kohli's absence too left a great void in the middle order; as the Delhi batsman is capable of both playing the sheet anchor's role as well as knock the leather out of the boundary ropes.
No one needs a magnifying glass to see Yusuf Pathan's inability with the bat at the international level, which was showcased once again and Ravindra Jadeja's batting skills are surely not in sync with the position where he bats. Hence, if the latter gives away sixes by the dozen while bowling and is unable to take sitters, his selection is nothing but committing hara-kiri (which Dhoni did after selecting him for the West Indies game).
Yuvraj Singh's attitude and body language is abominable coming from a senior player and it is time he is reprimanded for it. And Zaheer Khan too should hit the treadmill and learn some lessons in fitness and ferociousness from his Mumbai Indians skipper.
As Ravi Shastri has pointed out, this was surely one of the worst outings for Dhoni the skipper. He may have been the man whose leadership skills won India the inaugural World Twenty20 and paved the way for the team to become number 1 in Tests and number 2 in ODIs, but the time to sit back on past laurels is soon vanishing and it is better to let go of the stubbornness too. Remember, this was the main reason behind Sourav Ganguly's downfall post 2003 World Cup. As a skipper you need to be accommodating and open to new options and ideas and India cannot afford to lose Dhoni just yet.
Also with Twenty20 fast becoming the premier format, India needs to look in for specialists. A look at the English and Australian squads will give us the answers. It is difficult for us to match their level of discipline because some things are just not possible. But we should raise the bar for sure because flair and talent is something that we have aplenty.
So, I just hope that all the fury is properly channelised and right kind of sounds are made and what results out of it all is significant enough to take Indian cricket forward.